Ludwig Geyer, Wagner's stepfather, was a painter, poet, and actor who possessed a fine, light tenor that endeared him to Carl Maria von Weber, conductor of the Court German opera in Dresden from 1817. Geyer was tapped for singspiele and operettas and often took young Richard with him to rehearsals. Weber, in turn, was a frequent visitor to the Geyer household until Ludwig's death on September 30, 1821. Der Freischütz had its premiere in Berlin on June 18, 1821, but was not heard in Dresden until January 26, 1822 -- the eight-year-old Wagner was so enthralled that he learned to play the overture on the piano. Weber's part song Lützows wilde Jagd was the first piece of music Wagner copied as he began feeling his way toward his vocation. Weber's example informed his first completed opera, Die Feen. A decade on, after a series of engagements in provincial opera houses and an attempt to catapult his career during an ignominious two-and-a-half year stay in Paris, Wagner returned to Dresden to witness the triumph of Rienzi, his first success, on October 20, 1842. The premiere of Der fliegende Holländer followed on January 2, 1843, and, though not the hit the fashionable, Meyerbeerian Rienzi continued to be, proved viable, confirming Wagner as a composer of consequence. His conducting skills were sampled when Reissiger, the chief conductor, passed the baton to him for the sixth presentation of Rienzi on December 12, and again for Euryanthe in January 1843. Offered the post of assistant conductor at the Dresden Court Theater, he declined, angling for the recently deceased Morlacchi's position, which, straightaway, Freiherr von Lüttichau, the Intendant, proffered. Wagner accepted and was appointed Royal Kapellmeister for life at an annual salary of 1,500 thalers -- an appointment denied to Weber. Though prestigious, this change of fortune was mitigated by the fact that Wagner was a liveried servant obliged to compose music for special occasions. Among the first of these was a Weihegruss for a cappella men's voices for the unveiling of a memorial to Friedrich August I. Another, more welcome, requirement was the composition of Trauermusik -- funeral music -- to accompany the remains of Weber, who had died in London in 1826. Less a composition than an arrangement of two episodes from Euryanthe, the Trauermusik for winds, 80 strong, and 20 muffled drums, greeted the casket in a torchlight procession on December 14, 1844. At the burial in the Friedrichstadt cemetery the following day, Wagner delivered the funeral oration.
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Description by Adrian Corleonis
|2012||Guild Historical||GHCD 238485|
|2000||Mark Custom Recording||3181|